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Really understanding Synthesis.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 05, 2017 2:43 am    Post subject: Really understanding Synthesis. Reply with quote

Went through a series of videos on youtube that show synthesizer work in the frame of acoustic hardware with mechanical modulations and electrical aspects running mechanical hardware rather than digital.




Even when it comes to digital versus analog, when you look at the substructure of what is going on in analog and digital, the lines start to blur as far as difference in the substance of analog and digital. And i don't mean the sound but the very substance that makes the sound possible.
An acoustic instrument is an acoustic instrument even when the instrument changes and the medium, over which the sound is generated, changes. The meduim for generating the sound being either strings vibrated by plucking or bowing, wind vibrating a reed or simply reverberating in a dynamic cavity, or percussive action over dynamically shaped solids, hollows and whatever.
So why then is analog not digital and digital not analog? How is it any different than going from string to wind to percussion? You just go from one way of generating the sound to another and does not change that you are working within the same realm of instrumentation and hardware.
Same thing comes up in Computation. Analog versus digital. Where is the real line drawn between the two and is the difference really that clear when you see them at their substructure level?

Seeing the acoustic instruments in the videos and how mechanical actions produce sounds and modulations that we so easliy assume are only synthesizer fare. How else does a weird acoustic piano with electric motors rigged for sound modulation mechanics end up producing sound that was only known in synthesizers before? Because at the substructure of the sound, a common thread exists.

Digital replicates acoustics and if it can be created digitally, an acoustic instrument can be made(inefficiently maybe) to make the exact same sound. And vice versa.
The issue with Digital sounds not being able to truly replicate acoustic instruments or analog synthesizers ,has to do with missing aspects yet to be applied into the digital recreation of the sound. Same with painters or pixel work. It is a matter of adding resolution, more color response and in the case of sounds, there is more to it than visual mechanics. The geometry of size and shape imparts on the sound signature and it is hard to really recreate that in the minute substructure of the digital realm. Bulky Vacuum tubes tend to do a better job at giving the sound more of a bigger size and shape signature and that is the advantage analog has over digital but still both are missing aspects of Acoustic sound.

Seeing acoustic instruments with mechanical and electrical modulators and tone generators, really puts electronic synthesis into perspective.

I love the digital though, because a major efficiency advantage over the bulky size and energy consumption of the acoustic contraptions. And when all the pieces add up to sound production, the digital synthesizer can make thousands of them in a pack the size of a laptop. Then it is up to the performer to decide what kind of bulk to tolerate from a controller keyboard.
These days no need a bulky controller keyboard when you can play an electronic midi flute from roland and other compact devices to make having a keyboard much less of a tote.

Still it is easy to lose sight of what synthesis is really all about when oblivious to just how extensive the acoustic sound world is.
Looking at Spectrasonics work and their massive sound libraries, they often start with acoustic sounds and mechanical modulations. There is just too much untapped sound potential in the acoustic world. I was misled to believe at one point that synthesizers were the major repository of sounds to be discovered. Just listening to birds, frogs and insects around the world is evidence enough to the acoustic sound potential.
I was lucky enough to video capture a bird call in the Amzon jungle years ago and it struck me as sounding like it was voicing itself straight out of a synthesizer, what i would imagine a synthesizer to sound like 20 years from now. I had a terrible cheap camera but i got the sound anyway and i sampled that to Kronos and was able to get some really interesting sound with effects added to mask the poor quality original recording.

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